Paul Stam

North Carolina House Republican Leader

What will the Marriage Amendment do?

On May 8, 2012 the voters will decide whether this provision should be added to the State Constitution:

“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.  This Section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

This Marriage Amendment would recognize only domestic legal unions between one man and one woman.  Domestic partnerships or civil unions, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, would not be valid or recognized here.  The Amendment would prohibit the government from creating “same sex marriage”  

The meaning of “legal union” as a judicially recognized status is concrete and clear in the context of family relationships.  In federal law, “’marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife…” 1 U.S.C. §7 (2005).  This  definition of marriage in federal law is consistent with the long-standing definition:   marriage is the “[l]egal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife.”  BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 876 (5th ed. 1979).  The word “domestic” was added to the words “legal union” to clarify that other legal arrangements, such as business partnerships, would not be affected by this amendment.

Any benefits extended by government to a person based on a domestic legal union other than marriage would be prohibited.  But Government could still extend employment benefits that impact or benefit non-married domestic households.  The extension of such benefits, however, could not be predicated only upon the status of a domestic relationship other than marriage.  For example, a city could still allow an employee to pick one other person of his or her choice to be the beneficiary for health insurance.

The second sentence of the Amendment makes clear that the Amendment would not prohibit private companies from entering into private contracts based on relationships chosen by the company.  Private employers, for example, could continue to offer domestic partnership or civil union benefits to an employee’s same sex or opposite sex partner.  The Amendment would prohibit the government from forcing a company to provide such benefit.

During the debate I was amazed at the baseless claims made by opponents. Several continue to be repeated by the media. Let’s set the record straight:


1.  The Marriage Amendment will not adversely affect North Carolina’s economy.  A 2011report by the American Legislative Exchange Council ranked states by economic performance between 1999 and 2009 and by economic outlook.  8 of the top 10 economically performing states have marriage amendments. None have legalized same sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships.  9 of the 10 states forecasted to have the poorest economic growth have legalized same sex marriage, civil unions and/or domestic partnerships. 


2.  The Marriage Amendment Will Not Affect The Enforcement Of Domestic Violence Laws.  Opponents would have you think the Amendment obliterates our domestic violence law.  The cases they use as authority are Ohio appellate cases later overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court which found the domestic violence statutes consistent with the state’s marriage amendment.  In Kansas the outcome was the same.  Marriage amendments have had no effect on the enforcement of domestic violence statutes.  30 other states have marriage amendments.  In all 30 states domestic violence laws continue to be enforced. I have read and reread our domestic violence statutes.  I am unable to even comprehend the logic of this objection.


3.  Legally Recognizing Only Heterosexual Marriage Isn’t Discrimination Against Homosexuals Wanting To Marry.  Marriage between a man and a woman has existed in virtually every known society. It has served the purpose of channeling procreative sexual activity into an institution which will provide a stable environment for children produced from the sexual union of the partners in marriage. Recognizing that heterosexual marriage has provided the best environment for the rearing of future citizens North Carolina has regulated marriage for at least 340 years.   Same sex marriage is an entirely different relationship with a completely different purpose.  Expanding the marital institution to other relationships which serve completely different purposes ultimately undermines the institution which has proven to be the best and safest environment for children.


4. The Amendment Will Not Nullify Medical Powers of Attorney (MPOAs), Wills and Trusts if the parties are homosexual partners.

Under G.S. 32A-18 “any competent person who is not engaged in providing health care to the principal for renumeration, and who is 18 years of age or older, may act as a health care agent.”  The relationship between the patient and the designated agent does not matter. The intent of the testator and trustor is the “gold standard” in NC for interpreting wills and trusts.  The Amendment does not change the intent of the testator in either type of these instruments.  The Amendment explicitly states that it will not affect the rights of parties to enter into private contractual agreements.


5. The Marriage Amendment Will Not Determine the Custody and Visitation Rights of Unmarried Parents Unless Their Behavior Affects the Child.  Custody orders are based on the “parent”/child relationship, not on the domestic relationship between the “parents”.  Courts have based custody and visitation on the “best interest of the child.” NCGS 50-13.2(2007)  The sexual behavior of the party petitioning for custody or visitation is not determinative except as it affects the child.  


The “de facto parenting doctrine” was applied in 2010 in Boseman v. Jarrell.  The Supreme Court refused to allow adoption to an unmarried same sex partner but did award joint custody and visitation rights to that non-biological same sex partner who had become a de facto parent to the child.

There is a real threat to the institution of marriage.  In several states same sex marriage has been imposed upon the people by courts that have engaged in tortured judicial reasoning – Massachusetts and Iowa for example.  These courts have used the state constitutions to reverse the very pro marriage policies that were in effect when the state constitution was adopted.

Now it’s happening in North Carolina.  Same sex couples in Asheville went to the Courthouse for two weeks last fall seeking to obtain marriage licenses.  A lawsuit was filed by the Register of Deeds of Guilford County in December challenging our state’s marriage laws and asking the Court to declare them unconstitutional because they don’t allow same-sex partners to “marry”.

This Marriage Amendment will ensure that marriage between one man and one woman will be protected from result-oriented judges.  

Voters will decide on May 8th.

For more information please visit

11 Responses to “What will the Marriage Amendment do?”

  1. Karen Pendola says:

    Important that we VOTE – so much is crucial this year. I support ensuring marriage between one man and one woman will be protected. So much money being spent when we have far more serious economic problems that need addressed!

  2. It is so important that all voters get out and VOTE so trying to change Federal Laws and further nullify the very principals this country was founded on stay protected. I for one would be rather happy to just try to maintain a balanced budget and put unemployed back to work if they are able. Why spend so much money in courts for something like this issue, when children and elderly are having so much taken away, or decreased? We need to protect children in as sound an environment as is humanly possible – legal marriage with father strengthing and mother nurturing.

  3. David Hartman says:

    Thank you Paul, for supporting and advocating this important amendment!

  4. Jihad Shawwa says:


    No one would say it better than the way you have said.
    The Marriage Amendment will destroy our human values and not only our constitutional values.
    I pray that this Amendment will be pass.

    How could we help preventing this from happening?

  5. Jihad Shawwa says:


    No one would say it better than the way you have said.
    The Marriage Amendment will destroy our human values and not only our constitutional values.
    I pray that this Amendment will be not pass.

    How could we help preventing this from happening?

  6. Elsa alva says:

    The amendment is perfectly right. Thanks for the Info.

  7. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. If homosexuals want to express their love and devotion to each other…have some kind of ceremonial celebration with family and friends and make a legal document. Marriage should be protected as the union of a man and woman, which is its legal definition. What will happen to group policies that cover employees and their families? Families are added without medical examination. Employers could not bear the burden nor could their employees of raised premiums which would result from the adding of homosexual parteners that may have AIDS or the virus that causes it. Costs are astronomical for treating AIDS and the virus. This may sound harsh, but it is reality. I will vote for the marriage amendment on May 8th.

  8. It is important to have the marriage institution remain between a man and a woman and nothing else. It is a sin to have a so called marriage between two people of the same sex. It’s also revolting.

  9. Liz Wells says:

    I find this very informative and helps to dispel many of the rumors that are circulating. I do, however, have some serious concerns and questions. First, why is the wording of this proposal so vague and confusing? It would appear that it is to polarize. Second, WHERE and HOW has it been “proven” that “marriage” is the best and safest environment for children. I think such a bold statement warrants a complete and specific explanation. Please cite the studies ( I certainly hope more than one study is the basis for this statement) that conclude that “marriage” is the best and safest environment for children. What criteria are you using to determine what best and safest environment is? If you are unable to provide me with indisputable evidence that “marriage” has been “proven” to be the “best and safest environment” in which to raise children, I respectfully demand that you eliminate and publicly retract the statement. To not do so, in my opinion would be irresponsible given your position as an elected official and certainly a blatant act of cowardice. You are certainly entitled to your opinion however, unsubstantiated statements cross the line and possibly would be subject to legal action.

  10. Ramona Timm says:

    I have now been told the reason to oppose the MA is because it will deny equality to the homosexuals..
    I was told it is Unconstitutional because our State Constitution states in Article 1 Section 1 that all are to
    have equal rights..
    I feel like my brain is about to explode..
    How can one concisely and in a few sentences explain why this is not so?

  11. Jacqueline Fantroy says:

    Bravo! I live in Ohio and wish to bring the movement to annul same sex marriage here. A councilman thought that being a gay friendly city would bring culture and economic growth. Cleveland now holds the distinguished title of being one of the gayest city in the country. Where’s the culture? Cleveland is just as broke as every other city. I believe the word of God that says this type of union is and always will be forbidden. Pro-gays are already revising holy scripture to read the exact opposite. Do you think you have an interested congressional member in Ohio who is in agreement?

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments